Mile News

Cain finds balance between pro career, college

February 14, 2015

"I love the Mile. I feel that practically I'm a bit smarter in it, a lot more experienced. I also know that this is going to be a really fast race, a really good race."

By Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK — Like most college students, Mary Cain's class schedule as a freshman chemistry major at the University of Portland is rooted in a familiar premise: frontloaded early, with classes and labs dotting the early days of the week, and largely empty on Thursday and Friday.

The normal rationale, one might politely suggest, is to free up the end of the week for, well, college-age activities — those that might make the idea of sleeping in on a Friday morning particularly appealing.

For Cain, however, this frontloaded schedule fits a more professional purpose: As one of the top junior runners in the United States, getting schoolwork out of the way early allows her to spend the rest of the week immersed in training with teammates in the Oregon Project, a Nike-sponsored group promoting American long-distance runners based out of the company's Beaverton, Ore., headquarters.

Cain, 18, doesn't run for Portland's track team, though she does chip in as a volunteer coach, when time allows. Instead, she's one of a rare breed, that of the young distance runner who opted to forgo the traditional college experience — as a student-athlete — in favor of a burgeoning professional track career.

"It's nice in that I have my track life and I have my school life, and so far I've been balancing them really well," said Cain, the defending World junior champion at 3000 meters.

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Tags: wanamaker mile (71) , mary cain (64)

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